The Space Shuttle Challenger crash: 33 years of one of the worst space tragedies


O January 28, 1986, at 11:38 local time Florida, 33 years ago, the space shuttle Challenger, exploded in the air 73 seconds after its takeoff at the base of Cape Canaveral, in one of the worst accidents in astronomical history.

The launch was seen live since its broadcast throughout the country because it was the program's first mission "Teachers in Space" (teachers in space), whose objective was to re-attract public attention to the manned space program.

O The STS-51L was part of the 25th space shuttle program, began in 1981 with the goal of having a reusable vehicle that would reduce the costs of access to space. Of the three parts that formed the system, two of them (orbital and solid propulsion engines) were reused for subsequent missions, while the third (the external fuel tank) was re-built for each.

This would be the second mission of 1986, the first was performed by the STS-61C on January 12, two weeks before the launch of the Challenger, and the first of that probe that year.

In addition to the "Teachers in Space" program, another who had the mission to perform experiments related to Halley's comet, which would happen on February 9 for perihelion.

In addition, astronauts would put a communications satellite into orbit and perform other scientific tasks on fluid dynamics.

Of January, 22th, the original day for take-off, sand went to 28 for fear that the delay would complicate the schedule of launches planned for that year.

The cold of that day January 28, minus 1 ° C, made Thiokol engineers, who built the solid propulsion engines (SRB) on both sides of the vehicle, extremely worried in the days before takeoff.

It was very cold for the O-rings that sealed the different stages of SRB. The engineers could not guarantee their elasticity or their resistance to the rigors of pressure and temperature to launch in the face of these climatic conditions, but the pressure not to delay the mission even more was imposed and the NASA has approved the launch of Challenger.

Then the catastrophe happened: the bus took off from Launch Complex 39B at 11:38 local time, and at 73 seconds the Challenger exploded.

The official cause of the crash was a failure on one of the boost engines.

"We cried seven heroes"said President Reagan.

The entire team, Francis "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik and Christa McAuliffe, He died because of the accident.

The dramatic accident thwarted NASA's aspiration to send civilians into space to engage society in its explorations, seek support for its expensive funding, and obtain opinions from teachers, journalists and other professionals who could make a literary contribution.

NASA buses stopped flying in July 2011, and all that's left of them are now museum pieces on Cape Canaveral. Since then, the US agency used the Russian spacecraft Soyuz to transport its astronauts waiting for the arrival of the new ships under test. SpaceX and Boeing.


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